Scottie Scheffler leads 30 best players into Tour Championship

Field Level Media
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Aug 20, 2023; Olympia Fields, Illinois, USA; Scottie Scheffler walks off the 18th green after finishing the final round of the BMW Championship golf tournament.
Aug 20, 2023; Olympia Fields, Illinois, USA; Scottie Scheffler walks off the 18th green after finishing the final round of the BMW Championship golf tournament.
Image: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Scottie Scheffler is back in the driver's seat, Rory McIlroy is aiming to defend his title and Viktor Hovland has entered the conversation by getting white-hot at the right time.

The top 30 players in the season-long FedEx Cup standings will tee off Thursday in the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, vying for the FedEx Cup trophy and an $18 million first prize.


Jon Rahm of Spain had held down the No. 1 spot in the points standings for most of the season, but Scheffler, Hovland and McIlroy passed him thanks to high finishes at last week's BMW Championship. Hovland, the rising star from Norway, fired a 61 in the final round to win the event, vaulting past Scheffler (tied for second) and Northern Ireland's McIlroy (fourth).

In Year 5 of the Tour Championship's "staggered start" format, Scheffler will begin the week at 10-under par for the second year in a row. Hovland will start second at 8 under, McIlroy third at 7 under and Rahm fourth at 6 under.


As recent history has shown, pole position at the Tour Championship isn't an impenetrable advantage.

McIlroy made a dramatic late charge to beat Scheffler last year, despite carding a triple bogey on his first hole of the tournament. He trailed by as many as 10 strokes early in the week and six on Sunday.

"So if I can come back from (10) shots, I feel like everyone in this field should feel like they have a chance to win," McIlroy said Tuesday.

Scheffler has been one of golf's most consistent players since his breakthrough in early 2022, but he hasn't won since The Players Championship back in March. He'd like to avoid a repeat of last year at East Lake, when he shot a final-round 73 to yield to McIlroy.


"Last year, I think I just — I maybe got — I don't know if impatient is the right word, in the final round, but I just didn't get off to a good start and after that, I played really well," Scheffler said. "So I learned about myself that, you know, how much I like to fight out there, and I kind of had a good talking to to myself."

Hovland, meanwhile, has picked up two of his five career PGA Tour wins in the past three months, winning the Memorial in a playoff before the BMW. Following some close calls at major championships, Hovland said he is finding more inner peace about his game.


It will help to start the week just two shots behind Scheffler.

"I'm still trying to do the same thing on the golf course, but I think in the back of your mind not starting 10 shots behind makes it a little bit easier," Hovland said. "You don't feel like you have to get off to a fast start. You can just kind of play your game and if you make six, seven, eight pars in a row, you're not stressing out, you're not thinking, ‘Man, I'm 13 shots back now.'"


The tour's Player of the Year race is seen as a two-man battle between Scheffler and Rahm, who won the Masters and three other tournaments. Rahm could put the conversation to bed if he overtakes Scheffler to win his first FedEx Cup.

"It's a culmination of a whole year in these last three weeks in a row, right? So it has a little bit of a different special feel to it," Rahm said.


Lucas Glover, who won consecutive tournaments earlier this month, will start in fifth at 5 under. Max Homa, 2021 FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay, The Open champion Brian Harman, U.S. Open champ Wyndham Clark and England's Matt Fitzpatrick will open at 4 under.

—Field Level Media